Little-known government benefit protects retirees


A non-descript Sacramento building houses the Western States Pension Assistance Project, a government funded agency that helps with legal problems surrounding retirement programs including 401ks and defined benefit plans.

Parisa Ijadi-Maghsoodi heads up the agency. She says her agency is there to protect money that consumers have already earned.

"The pension that they earned is deferred compensation. It's money that they earned while working that was put into a separate account to protect against poverty when they become older in their 60s or 70s," said Ijadi-Maghsoodi.

"My goodness can they just come in and arbitrarily take money out of my income," said Jeanette Johnston.

Suddenly her retirement plan announced it would reduce her benefit by $92 a month.

Johnston met with the Western States Pension Assistance Project and eventually she was refunded the money that had been taken.

"It was in excess of $500. And, they quit taking the monthly and all of that happened because I came here for assistance and I got wonderful people to help me," said Johnston.

The pension assistance project will help anyone living in California and several other western states. People don't have to be retired and they don't have to be living on a low income either.

"I suggest anyone who's working right now whether you are [20 years old] or [70 years old] keep copies of your records. Keep copies of your tax returns and keep copies of your 1099Rs. You want to be able to prove or disprove that you received a cash-out or lump sum," said Ijadi-Maghsoodi.

Copyright © 2023 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.